Pfizer to buy Anacor Pharmaceuticals for $5.2bn

Pfizer has agreed to buy Anacor Pharmaceuticals for $5.2bn (€4.6bn), gaining control of an experimental treatment for eczema in its first deal since walking away from a $160bn takeover of botox maker Allergan.

Pfizer will pay $99.25 in cash for each Anacor share, the companies said in a statement yesterday.

The transaction, which represents about a 55% premium to Friday’s closing price, is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter and may start adding to Pfizer’s earnings in 2018.

Chief executive Ian Read said this month that Pfizer was looking to acquire products that are close to hitting the market, while considering a split of the business in the wake of its failed attempt to buy Allergan.

Anacor’s crisaborole drug, which the US Federal and Drug Administration is scheduled to make a decision on by January 7 for the treatment of mild-to-moderate eczema, could have peak annual sales of $2bn, Pfizer projected, helping bolster its inflammation and immunology group.

“It is a strategically well-positioned drug in atopic dermatitis, which is an increasingly competitive market,” said Morningstar analyst Damien Conover, who has a buy rating on Pfizer. 

“This is going to be used in mild-to-moderate patients, so that could give them a niche of the segment of atopic dermatitis where there might be less competition.”

Anacor also holds the rights to Kerydin, a treatment for toenail fungus that is commercialised by Novartis’ Sandoz in the US.

Pfizer has said it will decide by the end of the year whether to break up, which could offer tax benefits, and could have the transaction done by the end of 2017.

The drugmaker dropped its mega-merger with Allergan in April after the US Treasury announced rules that would have reduced the tax benefits of that deal.

Mr Conover said this is likely one of a number of deals Pfizer will do this year as it prepares for a potential split.

Pfizer already has a set of drugs that could help it grow revenue this year for the first time since 2010.

Analysts expect combined sales of three of the company’s fastest-growing treatments, Eliquis, Prevnar and Ibrance, to exceed $15bn in 2020.

However, its near-term pipeline is less exciting. 

Pfizer is in late-stage testing of a drug to treat high cholesterol — a market that already has established competition from Amgen and Sanofi/Regeneron. 

Its late-stage diabetes drug faces three major competitors.


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